4th of July - USA

12676026299?profile=RESIZE_400xJuly 4th marks the anniversary of when Congress, comprised of delegates from the United States' original 13 colonies, signed the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776. The document declared the nation's independence from Great Britain.

Some research indicates that the original signers didn't even write their names on the official document until 2 August 1776.  In fact, it would take six months to acquire all 56 signatures.  Thomas McKean, a delegate from Delaware, was reportedly the last person to sign the document.

The Declaration of Independence was drafted in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson and four other members of the Second Continental Congress, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston.  It was signed by 56 men later that summer.[1] 

Some Americans began celebrating the Fourth of July in 1777, the year after the Declaration of Independence was signed.  Celebrations became more widespread, however, after the War of 1812.  By 1870, Independence Day had become the most important nonreligious holiday nationwide. It also became a federal holiday on the 28th of June that same year.

Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks?  During the first Fourth of July celebration in Philadelphia, a cannon was fired 13 times, and 13 fireworks were set off in honor of the original 13 colonies.  Fireworks were also set off in Boston.  But be careful with the fireworks. 

Although laws vary across the country, Americans continue to celebrate the summer holiday with elaborate firework displays.  In Ohio, a new fireworks law went into effect last year.  According to the new law, residents can only discharge fireworks between 4-11 p.m. on July 3, 4 and 5 and the Friday, Saturday and Sunday immediately before and after the holiday.

Of the 56 signatures on the parchment, one definitely stands out: John Hancock.  But all the signatures on the Declaration, especially that of John Hancock, are now icons of patriotism.  The signing of the document became just as significant as Congress’s votes to approve the measure, although the signing did not commence until 2 August.  Those 56 members of Congress have become figures of immense historical significance and elevated in public memory above all of the other delegates at that time.  And dramatic tales of how they put pen to parchment have become almost mythical in nature.[2]

Soon after the Colonial Revival of the late 1800s, many historians became skeptical of John Hancock signature stories.  One narrative that received some scrutiny was John Hancock’s motivation for producing his large signature.  One anecdote provides the following:  It will be remembered that a reward was offered for the head of John Hancock. When he signed the Declaration of Independence he did it was a bold hand, in a conspicuous manner, and rose from his seat, pointing to it, and said, “There, John Bull can read my name without spectacles, he may double his reward, and I put his at defiance.”

The details sometimes change, but the dramatic story arc remains the same: that John Hancock signed his name so large so that “someone can read my name without spectacles.”

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[1] https://www.cincinnati.com/story/entertainment/2024/06/24/4th-of-july-2024-events-parades-fireworks-in-cincinnati/74122280007/

[2] https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2019/09/12/john-hancock-and-his-signature/

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